Fit Perfect

Is sitting the new smoking?

A large number of us are based in an office during our working day, sitting at a desk for most of it, how many of us are fully aware that our desk jobs put our health seriously at risk?  Regardless of what exercise we take during our leisure time.

Health officials have known since the early 1950’s that prolonged sitting is really bad for us.  Studies show it increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and certain cancers.

An American physiologist called Mark Hamilton, coined the phrase… sitting is the new smoking.  And he’s right!

There are two influential studies that highlight the risks; The American Cancer Society studied over 120 workers and followed them for over 14 years, it found that 40% of the women studied, who sat for more than 6 hours a day had an increased risk of dying from a variety of sedentary health disorders.  The second study from the American Journal of Epidemiology, looked at people who had a sedentary job for more than 10 years and found that their desk jobs doubled their risk of certain cancers.

If you have a job that means you sit for most of the day, what can you do about it?  the Endocrinologist, Dr. James Levine at the Mayo Clinic has published a theory about putting more N.E.A.T. (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) in your daily activity and suggests 3 easy solutions:

  1. When you’re talking on the telephone stand-up, move your feet around or walk while you’re talking. When in meetings with your work colleagues or even friends and family, take a walk instead of sitting opposite each other, why not discuss things on your feet instead, I’ve found walking clarifies my thoughts.  Try it.
  2. Raise your desk so you have to use it standing up instead of sitting at it, Ernest Hemmingway is said to have written at a standing desk.  It helps focus and concentration too.  Give it a go.
  3. If your office gives you the go-ahead, take a walk for 3-5 minutes in every hour you’re sitting down, why not go and speak to that person in accounts instead of emailing them?  And take the stairs instead of the lift.  Your thighs will thank you for it.

So, prolonged sitting is really bad for you, get up and move around, you’ll feel more energised and you’ll burn off extra calories too!